A tree couple of trees knocked down some power lines on Zylstra Road in Oak Harbor after a storm Jan. 13. Photo by Chris Hayden

A tree couple of trees knocked down some power lines on Zylstra Road in Oak Harbor after a storm Jan. 13. Photo by Chris Hayden

Windstorm wreaks havoc across island

Power was knocked out to thousands of customers in the first big storm of the year.

No area of Whidbey was spared from damage during the first powerful storm of the year.

The wind storm knocked out power to Whidbey residents for multiple days, tipped a truck over atop the Deception Pass Bridge and limited drinking water access to Langley residents.

The storm occurred late Tuesday, Jan. 12 and into Wednesday, Jan. 13. Wind speeds hit 48 miles per hour at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, with gusts of up to 64 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Fallen trees, downed power lines and other debris resulted in more than 50 road closures in Island County.

As of Thursday afternoon, crews were still working on 22 closures.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the Puget Sound region lost power.

By Friday morning, 385,000 customers had power restored and 23,000 were still waiting for service across Western Washington, according to Puget Sound Energy.

Locally, there were 4,219 customers on Whidbey Island without power Thursday, most of them on South Whidbey.

Some customers were told they would have to wait until Saturday for their electricity to be restored.

Recent rains that saturated the ground were to blame for the increased tree falls during the wind storm, the power company said.

Trees damaged poles, power lines, transmission lines and substations, and blocked crews from accessing roads safely, all of which led to longer delays in returning service.

School was cancelled for all of the island’s school districts Wednesday because students could not connect to the internet for remote learning, and school buildings did not have power.

Multiple public meetings were also postponed. Deception Pass State Park had an emergency closure because of fallen trees.

The island’s fire departments were busy responding to calls.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue responded to 75 storm-related calls, Chief John Clark said, and there were three car accidents related to the weather.

One of the calls was for a semi-truck that turned over on Highway 20 on Deception Pass Bridge early Wednesday morning.

The driver was not injured, but the truck was stuck leaning on the east railing for hours until it was safe in the high winds for crews to right the vehicle.

Both bridge lanes were closed for almost five hours, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Two trees also came down on the north side of the Deception Pass Bridge around the same time the truck blew over, blocking the road.

Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue responded to 28 calls. Most were for downed trees, but several were for “carbon monoxide alarms related to generators running too close to the house,” said Chief Ed Hartin.

The fire agency also responded when a delivery truck caught a low-hanging power line as the driver was turning at the intersection of Highway 20 and Keystone Avenue in Coupeville Thursday morning, acting Lt. Alex Majestic said in an email.

Two power poles were found on the ground “possibly from the line being dragged around the corner,” but there were no witnesses to confirm, Majestic said.

PSE crews responded to the incident and drivers were forced to detour after disembarking the Port Townsend ferry.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS responded to 30 incidents from Tuesday and Wednesday; most were related to fallen trees and power lines, but the public information officer said no one was injured.

A fallen tree on East Harbor Road in the South End blocked both lanes of traffic and knocked out power to residents.

The fire agency also reminded people of the danger of carbon monoxide poisonings and cautioned residents to never use generators, propane heaters and barbecue grills indoors.

Langley residents were asked to limit their water use because the Dalton Lane drinking water pump house was still without power on Thursday, and the city’s emergency generator failed.

A city utilities supervisor said she hoped to restore service that evening.

Storm pic
A semi truck was blown into the railing on the Deception Pass bridge early in the morning Jan. 13 during strong winds. The driver was okay, but Highway 20 was closed for several hours until crew could safely right the vehicle. WSDOT photo

A semi truck was blown into the railing on the Deception Pass bridge early in the morning Jan. 13 during strong winds. The driver was okay, but Highway 20 was closed for several hours until crew could safely right the vehicle. WSDOT photo

A tree on Highway 20 on the north side of the Deception Pass bridge held up traffic until it could be cleared early on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Photo by China Hageman

A tree on Highway 20 on the north side of the Deception Pass bridge held up traffic until it could be cleared early on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Photo by China Hageman

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